‘Nayls’ tough: Valley commits 24 turnovers in home loss to Fort Wayne Luers
Perkins scores 19, Cumberland adds 15 for Vikes
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- Naylon Thompson scored 28 points to lead three players in double figures as the Fort Wayne Luers boys basketball team handled host Tippecanoe Valley 72-53 Tuesday.
Nick Thompson, Naylon’s younger brother, added 11, and Isaac Zay added 10 for the Knights, who led 41-24 at halftime and who never let Valley closer than 15 in the second half.
Dawson Perkins scored 19 points for Valley, and Nolan Cumberland added 15.
Fort Wayne Luers improved to 2-3. Valley, who was without sophomore guard Paul Leasure for the third straight game with a foot injury, dropped to 1-5.
Turnovers plagued Valley against the ball-hawking pressure from the Thompson brothers. Once they got the ball, they looked ahead and had Valley’s transition defense on its heels.
Valley said they practiced against seven or eight players in practice to try and simulate Luers’ pressure.
“That was the main story,” Valley coach Chad Patrick said of the turnovers. “We had worked on it. We knew they were going to press and trap us. I mean, every team is probably going to press and trap us until we prove we can handle it. Without Paul out there, the other three guys need to step up. I was just disappointed because they didn’t act like they wanted the ball tonight.”
Meanwhile, pressure defense is a focus for the Knights.
“Turnovers are always huge, and I always tell our guys we’re trying to average less than 10 for ourselves and try to push our opponents to 15 to 20 if we can do that,” Luers coach Fonso White said. “It’s been a compliment to our defense this year when we pick it up a little bit more where our opponents have been averaging more turnovers than they normally do.”
Perkins was coming off a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) in a loss to Oregon-Davis on Dec. 23 and led Valley again in scoring. He also had a team-high seven rebounds and blocked a shot.
He had a smooth post turnaround and a 3-point play that helped Valley stay within 48-32 in the third quarter.
“He’s improving,” Patrick said. “This is only his third year of organized ball, and he keeps improving. There’s still a lot of things I’d like to fix tomorrow on him, but it’s just going to take time. … He’s getting there. It’s slow progress, but ... he’s doing better. … We get everybody back, I think we can start playing well and have a good second half of the season.”
Luers’ losses are all to ranked teams – Class 4A, No. 3 Homestead, Class 4A, No. 6 Indianapolis Cathedral and Class 3A, No. 9 Leo.
Naylon Thompson balanced looking for his own shot while getting his teammates involved. Patrick called him one of the best players he’s seen “in the last couple of years.”
“I didn’t know he had even close to that,” Patrick said when asked to comment on Naylon’s point total. “When Dad (assistant coach Bill Patrick) said that, I couldn't believe it because that was a quiet 28. He’s really good because he didn’t even look to score in my opinion. He was looking to distribute and get people open. He’s the epitome of a great player because he was trying to get all his teammates open and when he missed them, he was saying ‘my bad.’ He was leading them. He never really got out of control.”
Valley won the JV game 50-41. Riley Shepherd had 21 points to lead Valley. Dylan Neese added nine, Damion Kohler had six, Landon Walters had six, and Cooper Walls had five.
Valley’s game with Columbia City scheduled for Wednesday night was canceled early Wednesday morning. Columbia City also played Tuesday, losing to NorthWood 54-37. It’s unclear whether the cancelation of the Columbia City game was tied in with the cancelation of a wrestling dual against Whitko, which was also scheduled for Valley on Wednesday.
Valley was placed on “Red” on the Indiana COVID-19 map, which means that only parents and guardians may attend Valley home sporting events until further notice. A parent or guardian must have a voucher before buying a ticket.
Kyler Johnson made his varsity debut in the second half.
Fort Wayne Luers 72, Valley 53
FORT WAYNE LUERS (72) (2-3)
Nick Thompson 3 5-6 11, Naylon Thompson 8 10-12 28, Johnny Sewell 3 0-0 6, Lukas North 2 1-2 6, Omare Bates 2 3-3 7, Isaac Zay 4 1-2 10, Nelson Knapke 1 0-0 2, Sedrick Reed 1 0-0 2, T.J. Bush 0 0-0 0, Mark Taylor 0 0-0 0, Uri Vazquez 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 24 20-25 72
VALLEY (53) (1-5)
Brendyn Stump 1 0-0 3, Rex Kirchenstien 1 0-0 2, Braden Shepherd 4 0-2 9, Nolan Cumberland 3 8-9 15, Dawson Perkins 8 3-5 19, Cooper Walls 1 2-2 5, Landon Walters 0 0-0 0, Dominick Welk 0 0-0 0, Chase Miller 0 0-0 0, Dylan Neese 0 0-0 0, Kyler Johnson 0 0-0 0, Riley Shepherd 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 18 13-18 53
Three-point field goals:
Fort Wayne Luers 4 (Naylon 2, Zay, North),
Valley 4 (Cumberland, B. Shepherd, Walls, Stump)
Total fouls: Fort Wayne Luers 19, Valley 19
Fouled out: North (FWBL), 2:49, fourth
Turnovers: Fort Wayne Luers 13, Valley 24
Score by quarters
FW Luers 19 22 12 19 – 72
Valley 13 11 8 21 – 53